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The Pawnshop (1916)

Charlie competes with his fellow shop assistant. He is fired by the pawnbroker and rehired. He nearly destroys everything in the shop and himself. He helps capture a burglar. He destroys a client's clock while examining it in detail.


Charles Chaplin


Charles Chaplin




Complete credited cast:
Charles Chaplin ... Pawnbroker's Assistant
Henry Bergman Henry Bergman ... Pawnbroker
Edna Purviance ... Pawnbroker's Daughter
John Rand ... Other Assistant
Albert Austin ... Client with Clock
Eric Campbell ... Crook
James T. Kelley James T. Kelley ... Old Bum (as James T Kelley)
Frank J. Coleman ... Policeman


Charlie, the not-so-punctual and dependable pawnbroker's assistant, starts his day with his usual duties at the pawnshop--a bit of dusting; some polishing up, and above all, a lot of quarrelling with his co-worker. Before long, a customer arrives--what a fabulous opportunity for Charlie to exhibit his subtle technical skills, and to give his critical scientific evaluation with the use of a rusty can-opener. Then, another client comes, eager to see the diamonds; however, could he be a wolf in sheep's clothing? Written by Nick Riganas

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Short


TV-G | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


During an early scene, attention is drawn to the calendar on the pawnshop wall, which displays a date of Thursday, March 16. March 16 fell on a Thursday in 1916--the year this movie was made--and it is entirely possible that the scene in question was filmed on the actual date. See more »

Alternate Versions

Kino International distributes a set of videos containing all the 12 Mutual short films made by Chaplin in 1915 - 1917. They are presented by David Shepard, who copyrighted the versions in 1984, and has a music soundtrack composed and performed by Michael Mortilla who copyrighted his score in 1989. The running time of this film is 25 minutes. See more »


Featured in Hollywood: Comedy: A Serious Business (1980) See more »

User Reviews

Superior Chaplin.
14 November 2011 | by rmax304823See all my reviews

This is funnier and more inventive than some of his earlier work, and it's completely free of the pathos that would be found in his later work.

Chaplin is an assistant in a pawn shop that's run by a jumbo-sized, bearded older man who is alternately hysterical and furious and who, in both appearance and demeanor, reminded me of my cabinet-maker grandfather. Chaplin shows an amazing physical dexterity in some of the slapstick episodes and I couldn't help comparing them to the same sorts of gags that showed up in Laurel and Hardy. Without knocking Laurel and Hardy, the approaches are entirely different. Laurel and Hardy try desperately to be polite, efficient, and relatively normal. The pace is slower and more deliberate. Chaplin is faster, more aggressive, meaner. He kicks people in the pants for little reason. And he's a whirlwind of action. Even when he pretends to be unconscious in order to gain the attentions of his girl friend, he falls to the floor in a twinkling and is up just as fast to receive her ministrations.

The most memorable scene probably has to do with a customer who brings in an alarm clock. Behind the counter, Charlie exams it as a doctor would examine a patient, percussing its case, twinging its bell, and then he dismantles it roughly before handing the hatful of disordered pieces back to the guy and rejecting it with a shrug.

I think I prefer the shenanigans in the back room but partly because they involve that apoplectic owner and, I guess, because after Charlie knocks an armed robber unconscious he breaks the fourth wall, and whips around with a quick TA-TAH to the camera before the film ends.

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Official Sites:





None | English

Release Date:

2 October 1916 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

At the Sign of the Dollar See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Lone Star Corporation See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (restored)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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